Tuesday, 7 August 2018

RESEARCHERS TO WATCH: LISZT SCHOLARS AT UNIVERSITY OF PISA MAY HAVE EVIDENCE THAT COULD CHANGE MUSIC HISTORY AS RECENT FINDINGS POINT TO FIRST SOLO CONCERT PERFORMANCE HAVING BEEN HELD IN ITALY

Scholars at the University of Pisa have recently announced they have new “evidence” which would place famed Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt in Italy, where it is now believed the musician performed the first known solo performance for piano, later known as the “solo recital”[1] in Pisa, in 1839.

If correct, the “discovery” will re-write music history as we know it: it has been a long held belief that this musical milestone was achieved by the musician one year later, in 1840, at the Hanover Square Rooms in London.[2] The 1839 theory has made the rounds for some time, however there has yet to be any conclusive evidence that would support such a claim.

At present, there is little to report on this development, however Unraveling Musical Myths will be actively following this story and an update will be provided when further information becomes available. 

What we do know thus far, as gleaned from the University of Pisa website, is that the University cites the discovery of a Graf fortepiano, believed to have been played by Liszt, which had been in the possession of one Cardella family. Musicologist Mariateresa Storino spoke with faculty at the University early last month of “documents related” to the instrument which conclude “for the first time” a clear corroboration with the written testimony of the musician’s one time travel companion and mother to his three children (including Cosima, who would marry Richard Wagner) the Countess Marie D’Agoult, who placed him in Pisa in March, 1839.

These elusive documents, which have yet to be revealed on the international circuit, are the end result of a two year long research project, set up as a competition (with the granting of a research award as the prize) by the
Center for the Dissemination of Culture and Musical Practice at the University. The project was led by Storino and funded by the educational institution and the Agenzia Generale UnipolSAI divisione SAI di Pisa.

An archival reveal, in addition to any other evidence, the University has announced, is forthcoming.

Read more about this story on the University of Pisa website here. (article in Italian) 

*UPDATE - NOVEMBER 24, 2018:

BREAKING NEWS: LISZT SCHOLARS FROM UNIVERSITY OF PISA TO REVEAL WEDNESDAY RESULTS OF GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH THAT COULD PLACE COMPOSER'S FIRST SOLO CONCERT IN ITALY




Footnotes:
[1]Liszt initially planned to coin the previously unknown phenomenon of the solo performer as one who practiced “soliloquies.” By his first performance (now contested) in 1840, he had changed the title to “pianoforte recital,” (a designation believed to have been the brainchild of Frederick Beale of the London music publishing firm of Cramer, Beale, & Addison) which dumbfounded his audience when he introduced the performance as such, prompting one quizzical critic to utter “What does he mean? How can one recite upon the piano?”

It didn’t take long, however, for the audience to understand, and even less time to become hooked: Liszt would enter superstar status, attracting crowds large enough to overflow packed concert halls, complete with hordes of women breaking into hysteria and succumbing to bouts of syncope in what would become known colloquially as “Lisztomania” (à la German poet Heinrich Heine.)
[2]The Musical Times, April 1, 1902, p. 232: Liszt's early solo recitals in London, 1840 (includes contemporary critical review) (JSTOR)
-Rose.

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